The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reports that enrollment in charter schools across the US in the past 10 years has almost tripled from 1.2 million students in 2006-07, to an estimated 3.3 million in 2019-20. These numbers indicate the rise of charter school popularity, as they can offer several things that public and private schools cannot.
While parents can feel limited by the public school options available to their neighborhood and district, charter schools offer different educational structures that are independent of public school districts. Charter schools are held accountable to their performance contract or “charter,” whereas traditional public schools follow standards set by the state’s board of education. The charter helps the school adapt to the needs of the students while still upholding its standards. Additionally, a major difference between private schools and charter schools lies in tuition. Private schools tend to be expensive, but charter schools are tuition free, made possible through public and private funding.
Though tuition is free, high demand often dictates that some charter schools use the lottery system to enroll. This is an indication of the growing popularity and need for more charter schools. As a result, parents who advocate for their children in that way tend to be more involved in their school as a whole which can lead to an active parent volunteer community.
Some charter schools specialize in a certain area like science or the arts, providing a vocational model for students. In our state, the West Michigan Aviation Academy (WMAA), provides a unique education for students to earn a private pilot license as part of the high school curriculum. Another school, The Arts and Technology Academy of Pontiac (ATAP) offers courses featuring dance, art, podcasting, design gear, video productions, studio recording, and 3-D printing.
At Bay Mills Community College Charter Schools Office, we are proud of how our schools pursue the intellect and capabilities of our students. Through our broad range of charter schools, we are dedicated to providing a quality education for every child. Whether or not charter schools may be the right fit, the benefits of autonomy through accountability show how school choice makes a difference in your community.